Amontillado please

If you’re a little dazzled by the number of different types of sherry you can order when out for a drink in Andalucía, you are not alone.

Most people have their favourites, depending on how sweet or full they want theirs to be, but if you are looking for a sherry that is darker and thicker than pale Fino, but lighter and thinner than Oloroso, Amontillado could be your perfect choice.

Characterised by its nutty aromas combined with dry, intense aromatic, slightly oaky flavours, you will probably agree that Amontillado is both complex and delicious, and where sherries are named for the Andalusian city from which they hail – Jerez de la Frontera – Amontillados come from the charming little town of Montilla, in the province of Córdoba. Amontillado, therefore, is the ‘other’ sherry.

How Amontillado ages

Named after the Montilla region of Spain where it first originated in the 18th century, Amontillado starts its existence as a Fino, aging under a layer of flor yeast for between three and eight years. When the yeast clears away it exposes the wine to the oxygen entering through the slightly porous oak barrels. As a result, amontillado takes on a beautiful and distinctive amber colour.

Which Amontillado?

There’s a wide range of Amontillados, thanks to the different stages that occur between the two ageing phases. As a result, some Amontillados are paler than others and have very sharp flavours with faint touches of yeast from being aged longer within the flor (ask for an Amontillado maduro), while in others, touches of spices and wood predominate (Amontillado joven).

How to drink it

Being so aromatic, light and smooth, Amontillado makes a great accompaniment to white meats, wild mushrooms and semi-cured cheeses, so don’t forget to try some next time you’re having aperitifs or out and about tucking into tapas.

Make sure your Amontillado is served in a white wine glass and chilled at between 12 and 14 degrees centigrade. If you buy some to enjoy at home, it’s easy to keep corked and refrigerated for several weeks, ready to drink glass by glass if you so wish.